This one is aimed at writers and readers, but could be useful to anyone dealing with ‘assumptions’. When I was a girl I loved to read. It was never the only activity I liked but as I didn’t have lots of money to spend on lessons…I enjoyed it and learned that it helped me to be content even when none of my siblings or mother were willing to play with me.
Over the years, some assumptions developed. One was that I tended to think that most writers made good money. I tended to believe that the novels I found on the shelves represented the majority of high quality works that had been written.
Later in life, as most of the more professionally advanced authors who I met either in person or on Facebook or Twitter clarified: that isn’t really how it works. A year or two ago I finally broke down and did Internet research. I learned that more than half of professional writers are not novelists and that many writers have day jobs. There are a good 50,000 professional writers in the USA who earn a middle class income writing as ‘in house staff writers’ – these are mainly journalists.
I still remember when I was younger but not too young: when I saw a published novel I assumed that the effort to create the piece had supported the author in at least a lower middle class way for at least one year. Sadly, not even that is true in many cases. Now, I have heard the saying 20% of the books get 80% of the money. Wow.
For those who said, “Prepare for a day job” the truth is that I did a bunch of other work and pursued my higher education in a way that was intended to make sure that I would have at least plenty of access to real good day jobs. I also tried marriage. At this point I feel a lot like I was backed into the corner of needing to make the writing become a living all of a sudden and in ways not even I had planned – given what I was told…
Hm, nowadays, I wonder about the next project and figuring how to make it really work. I don’t want to be a fat “well fed” writer, so much as a writer who can afford to buy a house and have a decent car and pay for her son’s university and all that…and still honestly like myself and what I do for work. Color me “just like everyone else” on that front.